2014 Gig Sixty Seven: Victoria Hotel and Gig Sixty Eight: Festival Club

I managed to see a couple of shows last night.  First though a quick look at the city:  

I'm loving the Melbourne nights so far.

 

This wasn't far from the Swanston Hotel where I first saw Alice Fraser's very funny show "Everyone's A Winner" at 6.15pm. It is a tough time slot but her room was full and receptive.  Alice has a unique rhythm to her delivery that can take you by surprise. I thought her show was really well put together, nicely performed and it made me laugh a lot. I'm going to be interested to see where she goes with her next show as this feels like the beginning of something special.  So properly well spoken but deceptively dark, it is a show that will take you by surprise.  If you want to be across Alice before she becomes mega popular (and therefore you can be properly cool, right?) I'd suggest checking this show out stat.  If you'd like to know more about Alice you can listen to her on my podcast here.

After Alice in the same room was Ben Ellwood in his 7.30pm show "All My Zingers". There is a tasty chaos to what Ben does but he is in total control of where he is going within that anarchy.  One of the things I love about Ben's stand up is that in some circles he would be considered "dark" or "alternative" but I think he's more than that.  In fact I think he's extremely passionate and barely can contain the empathy he feels in a world that is full of people constantly shitting on those around them.  Once again this feels like a really interesting step in the right direction and I hope Ben continues to tour Melbourne where I think he can find a very strong fan base.  Ben was also on my podcast recently and you can hear him here.

 

I snuck this photo of Ben while he was entertaining me last night.

 

After the shows I had enough time to grab a coffee and head to my venue.  I took coffee out of my diet for about four months and quite enjoyed not drinking it.  Now during the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival it has become my life blood.  I am definitely drinking too much of it but it is keeping me upright so that has to count for something, right?  I have also been consuming those tasty chocolate frogs out the front of the Town Hall.  If you're standing around that area and have failed to check one out they're one buck and chock full of yum.  Anyway, enough about snacks.  Here's the set list for last night:

 

Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994

 

Last night was a quiet audience.  It was sold out and it definitely felt like they were enjoying the show but I think I was making the unfair comparison to the previous night where they were raucous.  The laughs were solid in this show but it felt a little more like work.  This is not a bad thing and I enjoyed the challenge of having to step up.  I noticed early that I dropped an "f" bomb in a place that I have never sworn before and I knew that meant I was feeling a little pressure to get the energy up.  I took note of that and then changed gears because it felt I was going to the audience rather than doing what I prefer which is letting them come to me.  Sometimes you can try to hard and as soon as I switched approach I felt a calmness that brought the show back into gear.

I was keen to have a good show because my friend Paul Horan was in the audience. Anyone who has followed my career and/or listened to my podcast would know Paul was the director for my shows "Three Colours Hammo", "The Killing Joke" and "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday".  Once you direct someone you sort of direct them for life and I definitely wanted Paul and his partner to enjoy the show.  This morning I discovered Judith Lucy was in the audience and between us I would have been plenty more nervous if I'd known she was out there.  It was like when Denise Scott and her husband came to the show or when I knew I was catching up with Tony Martin and his partner after the gig was done. I've looked up to all of them for so long that I definitely wanted them to like my show. Twenty years in to this ridiculous career and I can still get excited around some of the comedians I have shared a stage with.  I hope that is a feeling that I never lose.

After my gig it was off to the Hi Fi Bar to host the Festival Club.  I went in with a very specific goal this time.  The set list was:

 

I Stopped A Fight

"I Don't Give a Hoot!"

Hushed Angry Conversation

Watching Movies Out of Context

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

 

I wasn't totally happy with the job I did at the previous Festival Club gig so I went into this with two goals.  First up I didn't want to repeat any material from the week before in the off chance there were members of the audience who were returning.  Secondly I wanted to see if two pieces of disparate routines could work well together.  The first part of my set has never followed into the next two routines but I had an inkling they may match up well.  Last night they seemed to click together like they'd always meant to but I still found my beginning was a little sluggish.  I'm not certain if it was me or just an audience taking time to warm up but by the time I hit the halfway mark it felt like we were all on board together.

That can happen with hosting sometimes.  You can work your arse off at the start and not really know what the reward is until much later.  The Hi Fi Bar stage is mildly too high and a little too far away from the first row of audience members so that makes it even tougher to read the audience at the beginning.  By the middle of my opening it felt just right and I did long enough to build on the momentum and also have a little fun for myself.  Knowing that I would be rolling the acts from here I gave myself a couple more minutes to enjoy it before bringing on the first act.

Once again the line up was a cracker.  I noticed something for the first time too.  I've known the delightful Jack Druce since he was a teenager and I think he is a funny young man who works hard.  I have enjoyed watching him progress up through the ranks and I am always happy to see him on the bill.  Last night while I was watching him from side of stage I noticed how much older he suddenly is.  This is not patronising in any way but I could see he's really growing up and I loved watching that confidence ooze out of him onstage.  I am rapt to see him people like Jack, Becky Lucas, Aaron Chen and the like coming up through the ranks.  I feel like they're the life blood of the festival, the inspiring youngsters who keep old hacks like myself on notice.  I better keep improving too or these whippersnappers are going to take my job...if they haven't already!

A great night at the Festival Club lead to another late night.  Only three shows to go and an appearance at the Moosehead Gala before falling in a heap next Monday. Not long now and while I've loved this festival I can't wait for a day in tracksuit pants, drinking tea and rolling around on the lounge watching Game of Thrones and Mad Men.

 

Justin Hamilton

17th of April, 2014

Fitzroy North